SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy said July 6 that a police shooting in Ohio in late June and the mass shooting in Illinois on the Fourth of July both “represent patterns of behavior and action that cannot continue to be commonplace.”
“None of us can become numb” to the pain of victims and violence caused by these shootings, said the team in a statement issued from the religious community’s headquarters in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring.
The Mercy sisters denounced the June 27 “extrajudicial killing” by police of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, in Akron, Ohio.
“Excessive force by police against African American women and men that leads to their death is all too common,” they said.
In Walker’s case, “the video released by the Akron Police Department over the weekend captures the hunting pursuit of this young man by eight heavily armed police officers — a type of inhumanity toward humanity that escapes all rationale,” they said. “This must have been utterly heartbreaking for his family to watch.”
Police officers killed Walker during a foot chase following an attempted traffic stop and car chase. Officers said a firearm was discharged from Walker’s vehicle. At some point, Walker stopped the car, jumped out and fled on foot.
Walker’s actions “caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” and officers opened fire in response, striking Walker, according to Capt. Dave Laughlin.
According to news reports, officers fired more than 60 bullets into Walker.
Protests have taken place since the shooting occurred, but they have only grown since the body cam video of the traffic stop, chase and shooting was released July 3.
Police officials also released a photo of a handgun and a loaded magazine that officers said were found on the seat of the car.
Walker’s sister and the lawyer representing the family claim a photo of a gun was “staged” after Walker was shot.
Eight officers are on paid administrative, and Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said he will not release their names because the department has received death threats against the police.
Northeast Ohio religious leaders have called for an investigation of the Akron police force.
During an Independence Day parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, several people died and about 30 others were injured when a gunman perched on a rooftop fired on people lining the parade route. Five people died at the scene and two died later in the hospital.
Law enforcement authorities apprehended Robert E. Crimo III, 21, some hours after the shooting and charged him with seven counts of murder July 5. More charges against him were expected.
“Lives were lost and many others changed because of ready access to automatic weapons and the absence of sensible, responsible gun reform,” the Mercy sisters said about the mass shooting. “Our current federal legislation fails to protect society, and advocacy efforts to change this continue to fall on deaf ears.
“We must dispel the myth that ‘these kinds of killings only happen in certain neighborhoods’ — mass shootings happen everywhere in this country, and we all have a responsibility to work for change.”
They added, “As people of faith, we pray, not just prayers of grief and lament, but prayers of strength and clarity to see real change.”